This day of our road trip proved to be the most activity-filled of all.

Our hotel, The Butterfly Grove Inn.
We spent the night in a place that holds special memories from my childhood.  Pacific Grove is a town that is located next to the city of Monterey.  My grandparents would spend their summers there each year and we would venture up the coast to visit them.

We would take the short walk from the house to the beach, which was filled with rocks to climb on and tidal pools filled with anemones and hermit crabs.  Small sea shells were plentiful as well.

So, while planning our itinerary for this trip, Pacific Grove was one of the first places we chose to visit.

As we got ready to leave our hotel in the morning, we drove by the Monarch Grove Sanctuary.  

While many Monarch butterflies head south to Mexico, those that live west of the Rocky Mountains head to the coastal areas of California where they winter in the pines.

Pacific Grove is called “Butterfly Town, USA” and  it residents are proud of its seasonal visitors.  In fact, if you purposely cause injury to the butterflies, you could be faced with a $1,000 fine.

The main street is filled with colorful Victorian homes that have been converted into businesses.

A handmade furniture store located in one of the older masonry buildings had this sign up in their window, reminding us that earthquakes are a part of life in California.

Years ago, in the 80’s, we were walking downtown and saw an old, white Victorian house that was for sale for $1.00

Of course, there were stipulations that the city would require for renovating the house without sacrificing its historical character.  

We never forgot that house, but after 30+ years, we couldn’t recognize which house it was.

One of my favorite stores on the main street was a little garden shop.  Two friendly dogs welcomed visitors as they walked up the steps to an outdoor area filled with unique containers filled with combinations of succulents.

Vintage glass containers filled with succulents.

I have always had an affinity for recycling old items and turning them into containers for plants. 

I have seen chairs planters filled with colorful annuals, but this is the first one with succulents.  I like it, don’t you?

After shopping downtown, I couldn’t wait to get to the beach and explore the tidal pools and the beaches.

While I was taking pictures of the sea, my mother was taking a photo of me.

And I took one of her.

I decided that at 50, I was still young enough to climb over the rocks to explore.

As I turned to walk back to the car, where my mother was patiently waiting, I was pleasantly surprised at how far I had come.  I could just imagine my 14-year-old son scrambling over the rocks with me.

When I spotted my mother in the car, I noticed that she had made some new friends.

She had taken some of our whole wheat sourdough bread and was sharing some with the birds.

Once I reached the edge of the beach, I was greeted by a little friend who was undoubtedly hoping that I was generous like my mother.

Well, it turns out that I was willing to share some bread, so my little friend invited some of his friends.

This Canada goose also wanted some too.

After feeding both birds and squirrels, my bread was gone.

However, this was not to be our only encounter with wildlife this day.

As we drove down the coast toward Lover’s Point, we noticed a group of people gathered next to a temporary fence with binoculars and cameras.

Curious, we parked our car and joined them.

This is what they were looking at.  

Can you see the two animals in the center of the rocky shore?

Here is a closer view.  This is a harbor seal with her baby, which is only about a week old.

This particular beach in Pacific Grove is a very popular place for harbor seals to give birth and raise their pups.  From March to May, they give birth and care for their babies for about a month before leaving them to fend for themselves.

 The people we joined in viewing the seals, were volunteers, who observe the seals and note their size and activity.  Some volunteers keep track of how many babies are born each season.  So far, there had been 35.

As we were watching the seals swimming along the shore, a mother and her pup came up on the sand so that her baby could nurse.  What a special moment to have been able to see!

Carmel Mission

After we had spent some time with the seals, we drove to the nearby city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is a small beach city that is famous for its beautiful mission, picturesque downtown and fairytale cottages.

If you have followed our road trip, then it shouldn’t surprise you that we found ourselves at the Carmel Mission.  I had first visited this mission back in 2000.  Known as the “crown jewel of the missions” for its beauty, the Carmel Mission  opened in 1793.

The gardens surrounding this mission were absolutely lovely.

Wooden gates were flanked by large beds filled with a combination of flowering perennials and shrubs.

For entry into most missions, you pay a small fee, usually at the gift shop before entering.

Within the walls of the mission were smaller structures with a colorful mixture of geraniums, roses, Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber), sea lavender (Limonium perezii) and Santa Barbara daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus).

The branches of a Lady Banks rose adds beauty to the side of this mission building.

A large cork oak tree adds beauty to this inner garden of the mission.

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)

You often see Santa Barbara daisy, with its small white and pink daisies, growing throughout many coastal areas of California.  I grew it as well in the garden of our home in Phoenix in filtered shade.

This is a part of the cemetery where native American graves are edged with abalone shells. 

The significance of the abalone is explained with this sign.

After touring the garden and other structures, we headed into the church.

As you can see, the interior is beautiful. The metal rods that run through the ceiling help to provide stability.

At the front of the church, the crucifix along with other statues add to the beauty of the church.

For those of you, like me, who learned the history of California in school, this grave will interest you.  Father Junipero Serra, the founder of many of the California Missions is buried right here, where his picture rests.

Besides the having the “crown jewel” of California Missions, Carmel is also know for its fairytale cottages.

Our House Cottage

These small cottages were built in the 1920’s, by Hugh Comstock and they look like they stepped straight out of a fairytale.  

I’m not sure which one this is.

He created the homes for his wife’s rag dolls that she made and sold.  The cottages came with unique names such as Birthday House, Hansel, Gretel, Fables and Storybook Cottage, just to name a few.


The Birthday House

The size of the homes are quite small and people really do live in them.

To get to them, you have to hike up some hilly streets – (my feet still hurt) while being respectful of the occupants privacy.


To learn more about the imaginative cottages, click here.

Toward the end of the day, we headed toward adjoining Monterey and The Old Monterey Marketplace and Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Tuesday evenings, beginning at 4:00.

Three city blocks are filled with vendors selling delicious organic produce, baked sweets as well as handcrafted items. 

We bought some food for our dinner before heading off to our next destination of Santa Cruz.

Walking toward our car, we passed by this vendor displaying his wares…

If that doesn’t scream California to you, then I don’t know what does.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your kind comments on both my blog and facebook page.  It has been so fun sharing our experiences with you!

For those of you who have been fortunate to have visited the ‘Emerald City’, you know how beautiful and vibrant Seattle is.

Both my mother and I have been here numerous times and decided to spend most of our time in other parts of the Northwest, but we couldn’t just pass Seattle by.  We had to spend at least a little while enjoying the sights and sounds.

So where do you go in Seattle when you only have a few hours to spare?

Over 100 years old, Pike Place Market has been described as “Heaven on Earth” and “a browser’s heaven”.

I like how AAA describes this iconic place in their guidebook: “The sights, the smells, the sidewalk musicians, the seafood-tossing fishmongers and the ambling crowds all make it a sensory experience of the highest order.”

Of course, the fish mongers are perhaps, the most popular attraction as they toss large pieces of fish in order to fill orders.

Fish mongers interact with visitors and help them find the perfect seafood for their table.

I must admit that it was fun to watch them yell and toss large fish to each other.

While I don’t eat large amounts of seafood, I do like to see the different kinds available.  Pike Place Market has so many different types of fresh fish and other seafood available.

In addition to the fresh seafood, Pike Place Market is also known for their fresh produce and flowers, which was more up my alley.

The produce was so bright and colorful and looked absolutely delicious.

I love berries and grapes!  Once I get home, I plan on making some jam from my own blackberry bushes.

Farmers markets are great places to see vegetables that may not make it to your local supermarket.

Of course, I always tend to find myself spending a lot of time next to the flower stalls.

I decided that if I were ever to get married again  that I would have my bouquet made up of peonies.
Just a note – I have been happily married almost 29 years and have no plans on walking down the aisle again.

Pike Place Market is also filled with shops and a large variety of ethnic food places.

You can easily buy a baguette at a French bakery, pick up some fresh cheese and some fruit for a delicious lunch.

There is one place where there is always a line of people eager to get a certain beverage…

Pike Place Market is where the first Starbucks opened in 1971.

People happily wait in line for their favorite Starbucks beverage so that they can say that they visited the first one.

In addition to the seafood, fresh produce, flowers and great places to eat are a variety of shops carrying souvenirs, clothing and just about everything else.

‘Rachel’ is the mascot of Pike Place Market and is a large piggy bank.  The money she collects is used to benefit social services.  People say if you rub her snout after giving a donation that you will have good luck.

The marketplace is big and ideal for walking and people watching.  There is no ‘secret’ method for seeing everything.  Simply walk into one of the many entrances and just stroll throughout.

I came away with several flavored pastas, including chocolate, habanero chili pasta and garlic chives, which I will share with my family once I get home.  

After leaving the market and Seattle, we headed up north toward Canada.  Along the way, we decided to visit the town of Sequim, which is famous for the lavender that is grown there.

I was surprised to learn that they produce the most lavender in the United States.

We decided to visit one of the lavender farms, called Purple Haze Lavender.

The sight of the cute farm house greeted us as we drove into the parking lot for the small store onsite.

Small lavender plants were available to buy right outside of the store.

While the lavender won’t be in bloom until summer, it was still beautiful.

This spot in Washington, is relatively dry, receiving only 17 inches of rain per year, which makes it a great area to grow lavender, which don’t like soggy soils.

Among the grounds were blooming clematis climbing over an arbor.

Chickens, a peacock and an orchard filled with fruit trees were located alongside the lavender fields.

The store had just about any type of lavender product, including lavender ice-cream.

Who wouldn’t love a view like this?

We left the farm with a new appreciation for lavender.  

You can visit Sequim for their annual Lavender Festival in July.

Our journey resumed toward Port Angeles, Washington.  Tomorrow, we will tour the Olympic National Forest before leaving for Victoria, Canada.

Day 2 of our road trip was filled with quite a few firsts for me.

My mother and I are on our fourth annual road trip and this time we are exploring the upper midwest. You can read about day 1 here if you like.

Today, we woke up in beautiful Traverse City, with is located along the western side of Michigan.  It is a very popular location for visitors and it was easy to see why.

Our first stop was to visit the local farmers market in the historic downtown areas.

Whenever I travel, I like to to take time to talk to the local farmers about their produce and talk about the similarities and differences of growing the same types of vegetables.

Asparagus is really big in this part of Michigan.  There are signs for it everywhere along the roadways.  In the farmers market, just about everyone had some for sale.

Too bad, I don’t like asparagus 😉

A variety of herbs and vegetable transplants were available for sale.  I just love the color of purple basil – I have some growing in my herb container at home.

I love baked goods a lot!

Cherries are grown in the area and you can find cherries in just about everything including salsa.

There were quite a few planted containers filled with flowers ready for eager homeowners.

I really like herb planters like this one.

After the farmers market, we headed up toward the Old Mission Peninsula, which is a small finger of land that extends up from Traverse City.  Our destination was to see the Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

What we hadn’t prepared for was the beautiful scenery along the drive.  Orchards were filled with cherry trees, one type of fruit tree that does not grow in my desert climate.

Along the way, we spotted numerous vineyards.

The lilacs are in bloom everywhere and this vineyard was flanked by a huge lilac bush.

It’s hard to believe that this barren vine will soon be covered with leaves and sweet grapes.

Then we saw this sign, which led to one of my ‘firsts’.

The sign led us to Peninsula Cellars Winery, whose store is housed in an old, historic schoolhouse.

The inside of the old school was very charming.

I have never been much of a wine drinker.  The few times I have tried it, I didn’t really enjoy the taste.

But, I figured if I could do a bourbon taste test on our last trip, I would participate in a wine tasting for the first time.

I tasted four different wines and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked two of them very much.

Many of their wines had a school-themed name due to the old school building.  Their ‘Detention’ wine was a popular choice.
*Note: I have never gotten a detention at school.

I came away from my first wine tasting with a new appreciation for wine and a bottle of my favorite to share with my husband when I get home 🙂

As we got back on the road toward the Mission Point Lighthouse, we were told to stop by the old general store.

The Old Mission General Store is one of those places found out in the middle of the country.  You can see the lake behind it.

The store had a collection of the old and the new – but mostly old.

Barrels filled with salted peanuts and a variety of old-fashioned candies would make excite any child.

Old-fashioned sodas were offered alongside more current soda choices.  

A unique collection of foods were offered in the deli case.  I’m not sure what the reddish item was on the left and I’m still not sure what ‘blind robin’ is.  But, fishing is big here, so I’m assuming it is a type of fish?

The back was filled with an assortment of things including rabbit skins, wooden hand toys and coon hats.

After we left the general store, we continue our journey to the lighthouse.

The Mission Point Lighthouse is located at the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula.

The area has many trees and it is so green and beautiful.  We parked and started to walk toward the lighthouse and the shore, which we could barely see through the trees.

This lighthouse guided ships from 1870 to 1933.  We entered the lighthouse to see the exhibits and to embark on another ‘first’ for me.

I decided to climb up to the top of the lighthouse – something I have never done before.

There weren’t too many steps to the top, only 35 of them, but they were steep and the last part were ladder steps.

The 360 view was just beautiful!

Climbing back down, I decided to checkout the outside.

A cherry tree was in full bloom in the backyard with the lake in the background.

To be honest, there are a lot of lighthouses along the Michigan coast.  We don’t have time to see all of those along our route, so we had to choose a few to see.  It was the picture of the side of the Mission Point Lighthouse, which made me want to visit this one.  I am so glad we did.

We headed back down the peninsula and on the way, drove by this small painted shack where Michigan maple syrup was for sale.

Payment was done through the honor system where you inserted your money into a modified PVC pipe.  My mother bought a bottle.

Along this small peninsula, we passed an interesting marker…

I thought that we were pretty far north, but it turns out that we were only halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

See, you never know what you will learn on a road trip.

After our journey to Old Mission Peninsula, the rest of our day was spent touring the historic downtown area of Traverse City and later we drove up to the quaint town of Petoskey where we did some shopping.

All of the planters in the downtown areas were newly planted with colorful flowers.

While I saw some very creative containers filled with a variety of flowering plants, I was struck by the simplicity of this window box planted with a single row of orange marigolds.  The vibrant orange of this flower stands on its own.

One of my favorite shops we visited was called the “American Spoon”, which sells all types of preserves.

I love to make peach, plum and strawberry jam as well as applesauce from the fruit from both my garden and my mother’s – so I was anxious to go inside and taste the different types of jams and jellies they had.

While I did taste some delicious fruit preserves, there was also a large selection of salsas, including  pumpkin seed salsa and cherry salsa.
I must admit that I didn’t try any – I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my salsa.  But, I realize that I am probably missing out some new flavors that I may love.

Don’t these tomato preserves look delicious?

I came away from the store with cherry preserves, which I will use on my daily English muffin.  I also bought some tart dried cherries which I will sprinkle on my salads.
Did I mention that cherries are very popular here?  They are growing everywhere you see.

In addition to cherries and asparagus, fudge is also offered everywhere.

I haven’t had any yet, because I am waiting until tomorrow when we travel to Mackinac Island.

I can’t wait!

Well, I have almost recovered from our roadtrip to the east coast.  The clothes have all been washed, my huge pile of mail is now gone and I am no longer waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Our trip began by flying into Atlanta and renting a minivan before heading up to western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

I had never been to the South before and I was eager to explore.  We started our journey in Murphy and drove to Asheville.

As we were driving through the Applachian Mountains, I was captivated by the gorgeous scenery.  I also enjoyed seeing old, abandoned buildings being overtaken by trees and native vegetation.  My head kept turning this way and that trying to take it all in, which was difficult because I was the one driving at this point 😉

The kids hanging out with their Grandma (Pastor Farmer) at the lake at Montreat, NC.

Normally when my husband and I are in the same vehicle, he is the one driving, but because my husband was already in North Carolina when we rented our minivan at the airport, he was not on the rental car contract.  Normally, my husband is always the driver when we are together.  He does not like to be the passenger.  Are any of your husbands like that? 

Now, that is not a reflection on my driving my husband says….I grew up in California and learned how to drive the freeways of Los Angeles and in the California mountains. I must admit that my husband was a great navigator while I drove as our roles were completely reversed.  Thankfully for my husband’s sake, we were able to add him as a driver to our rental car once we reached Greensboro, NC.

Our stay in Asheville was wonderful.  The highlight was our trip to the local farmer’s market.  There were many items that were common to most farmer’s markets….

But, I was drawn to the unique items available…..

The mountain cabbage was huge, as were the tomatoes….

Last summer, I learned how make jam from my mother.  My pantry is still stocked full of peach and plum jam from the trees of Double S Farms.  I was anxious to see what type of preserves that the farmer’s market would offer….

What I was not expecting was the unique and somewhat strange canned products that I would find.

Have any of you heard of scuppernong juice?

The names of some of the preserves were quite creative.

I told my son that I did not think that they used real toes in this jam;-)

We are working on getting my son to stop using his ‘fake’ smile when posing for photos 😉

Okay, peanuts are extremely popular in the South.  They are offered everywhere.  Now, I had never heard of boiled peanuts before, so we tried some….

Now, I hope that I do not offend anyone when I say that we really did not care for the boiled peanuts.  They must be an acquired taste…

I loved these salad bowls.  What a great idea for growing salad greens, especially if you do not have a lot of space.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) looks beautiful, even in a drab container.

I love the colors of fall vegetables, don’t you?

We had no idea what these scary looking pottery bottles were and asked the potter who made them.  He told us that back in prohibition times that the locals would hide their liquor inside of these bottles from the authorities.  Nowadays, he said that they use them to hide their liquor, not from the authorities, but from children.  The scarier the container, the more kids will stay away from them.

We met a local musician at the farmer’s market, selling his CD’s and playing his coffee can fiddle.  Yes….I did say a coffe can fiddle.  It really sounded good.

I was curious to see if fried foods were really as popular in the South as people say.  Well, I would definitely answer yes to that one.  You can almost find anything fried, including pies.

We had a fabulous time at the farmer’s market and got ready for the next leg of our journey which would take us on to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and then to Williamsburg, Virginia.

But, before we end our visit, I would like to share with you two of my favorite labeled products that we found at the market….

We bought a jar of this BBQ sauce for my in-laws.  Doesn’t it make you crave BBQ ribs?

That’s right, they had moonshine jelly, made from white wine.  I wish we had bought a jar 😉

Well after our farmer’s market adventure, we got back on the road and onto our next destination….